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COLLECTIBLES

Making a Point With Sharpeners

ALSO: * Modified chifforobe * Smiley Pig cookie jar * Pressed-glass compote

July 25, 1998|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

After the pencil was invented in the late 1500s, there remained the problem of how to keep it sharp. At first the pencil was just a stick of graphite that could be rubbed to a point. By the 18th century the pencil was the more-familiar wooden stick with a graphite center. The eraser was attached to the pencil in 1858.

The 19th century was an era of invention; many strange pencil sharpeners were patented. Each had a blade or blades that rubbed across the pencil point. Each sharpener had a method of holding the pencil. Some had cranks to turn the blade; others required the operator to turn the pencil against the blade.

Collectors search for unusual mechanical sharpeners of the 1880s as well as bakelite figural children's sharpeners of the 1930s and plastic-and-chrome streamlined versions of the 1950s.

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Question: About 16 years ago, I bought a solidly constructed woman's dresser at an antiques shop in Wisconsin. There is no manufacturer's mark. The dresser has three long lower drawers under six smaller drawers and a central cabinet. The cabinet door opens to reveal shelves. I was told that it is a "hat-box dresser" because hats could be stored in the top section.

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Answer: Your dresser dates from the late 1920s or '30s. It is a modified chifforobe, a combination of a chiffonier and a wardrobe. It was not a common style, but some examples are shown in furniture catalogs from that period.

We had never heard the term "hat-box dresser."

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Q I have had a standing pig cookie jar for years. The pig has a green neck scarf and a white outfit decorated with green shamrocks. He has his hands in his pockets, and is 11 1/4 inches tall. The only mark is "U.S.A."

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A Your cookie jar, called Smiley Pig, was made by the Shawnee Pottery of Zanesville, Ohio. The pottery worked from 1937 to 1961. Shawnee made lots of cookie jars, as well as dinnerware, flowerpots, lamps and kitchen ware.

Smiley Pig was made in many variations of colors and decorations. Your pig is valued at $400 to $500. If he had gold trim, he would be worth $600 to $700.

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Q I wonder about the age of a pressed-glass compote that I inherited from my mother. A frosted glass statue of a woman is the stem. The compote bowl is edged with frosted panels.

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A Your Ribbon pattern pressed-glass compote was made with a Rebecca at the Well stem. The design was first made in 1877 by Bakewell, Pears and Co. of Pittsburgh.

In the 1970s reproductions were made by the Fostoria Glass Co.

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Q My family has owned a Murphy Da-cote Enamel tin advertising sign for years. The top half pictures a porch with rattan furniture on an Oriental carpet. There's a picture of a 1915 vintage car in the center. Ten color samples of painted wood are across the bottom. The sign is 19 inches wide by 26 1/2 inches high. It is labeled on the bottom, "Murphy Varnish Co., Newark, N.J., Chicago, Ill., Montreal, Canada" and "H.D. Beach Co., Coshocton, O. U.S.A."

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A Your tin-lithographed sign dates from about 1915. It advertises the paints made by the Murphy Varnish Co. It probably hung in a paint store.

Several manufacturers of tin advertising items were in Coshocton, a small town in central Ohio. The H.D. Beach Co. also made trays and store giveaways.

Your sign has great graphics--especially the car--and would sell for $700 to $1,000.

For a copy of the Kovels' 1998 leaflet listing 153 books and pamphlets that are price guides for all kinds of collectibles and antiques, send $2 and a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) No. 10 envelope to: Price Guides for Antiques and Collectibles, Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, Ohio 44122.

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